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Clergy hold rally to commend Boston police

Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross embraced the Rev. Arthur T. Gerald Jr. at the conclusion of Thursday’s rally at Boston Police Headquarters by clergy,
Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross embraced the Rev. Arthur T. Gerald Jr. at the conclusion of Thursday’s rally at Boston Police Headquarters by clergy, (Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff)

July has been a hard month, the Rev. Mark Scott said, as an American flag behind him flew at half-staff.

He listed the reasons — Baton Rouge, Minnesota, Dallas. But it’s important to note, he said, that the list doesn’t include Boston.

“For that, we say to the Boston Police Department, thank you,” Scott, an assistant pastor at Azusa Christian Community in Dorchester, said at a news conference Thursday. “We recognize that it is training, discipline, practice, attitude . . . that allows that to happen.”

In response to the gun violence that has roiled the country in recent weeks, several members of the Boston clergy decided to hold a rally at Boston Police Headquarters to commend the department for its responsibility, compassion, and restraint, Scott said.

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“We condemn violence against police officers for the same reason that we would condemn the inappropriate use of force by police,” Scott said, flanked by about 10 clergy members.

The rally came a week after more than 1,000 people marched through parts of Roxbury and the South End, calling for an end to racially charged police brutality. The march took place less than a week after five police officers were killed in Dallas at a Black Lives Matter protest.

On Sunday, three officers were shot dead in Baton Rouge, La., and three others were wounded.

Boston has not recently experienced a police-involved shooting, and Scott cited two recent incidents where Boston police showed commendable restraint.

On Monday, officers stopped a car with four young people who appeared to have guns. Police drew their weapons, and the occupants yelled the guns were fake.

In another recent incident, a man cursed at police and waved what appeared to be a gun at them. But police did not open fire. As it turned out, the gun was a replica.

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“The four police officers were able to disarm him, make an arrest, and again, nobody got hurt,” Scott said.

Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross said police officers are taught a “human side” to policing in the Boston Police Academy.

“What we do is we teach bias-free policing,” he said. “De-escalation has been part of our academy curriculum for the past six years.”

The key component to good policing, he said, is compassion and respect.


Trisha Thadani can be reached at trisha.thadani@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @TrishaThadani.